University Sets Inaugural Earth Month Celebration

Expanded calendar of events to include recycling competition, campus farmers market

Green Week, which has been held at Ole Miss since 2009, is being expanded to the entire month of April. The Earth Month celebration will feature more events and environmental education opportunities. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – For the first time, the University of Mississippi is expanding its Green Week to the entire month of April. The new Earth Month celebration will feature more events and opportunities for environmental education and outreach.

Since 2009, the university’s Office of Sustainability has hosted Green Week around Earth Day (April 22) to coincide with the world’s largest environmental movement.

“Green Week has always been my favorite time on campus, because it allows us to recognize our many partners for the good work we share, reminding them that while we have ‘sustainability’ in our office’s name, the larger project of environmental sustainability is a massive group effort,” said Kendall McDonald, associate director of the sustainability office.

“By expanding the celebration to a full month, we hope to offer more opportunities for our community to learn and connect, set positive intentions and, perhaps most importantly, to speak up about the issues that affect them and the ecosystems we all depend on.”

One such opportunity will kick off the celebration on Monday (April 3). “Earth Days,” a documentary about the history and heroes of the Earth Day movement, will be screened in the Grove at 5 p.m. The film examines the development of the modern environmental movement through powerful stories of its pioneers.

On April 13, the Egg Bowl Glass Recycling Drive is set for 2-6 p.m. A drive-thru will be set up in the Jackson Avenue Center’s parking lot, allowing campus and community members to easily drop off glass for recycling. As a fun competitive twist, the final weight of the glass will be compared to the results of a drive hosted by Mississippi State University’s Office of Sustainability.

Students plant trees in celebration of last year’s Arbor Day. This year, Earth Month will feature an Arbor Day event on April 27 where participants plan to plant a pecan tree in the Grove. Submitted photo

“We receive questions all the time about how to recycle glass in Oxford, so we expect this event to be very popular,” McDonald said. “Mississippi State has been doing this for a couple years now, and this is the first time we’ll compete to see which campus will collect the most glass.”

The Oxford Community Market will host a farmers market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 20 in the Galtney-Lott Plaza. The market has a longstanding partnership with the university and has grown significantly since its early days of setting up at Ole Miss.

“We are getting so much exposure with our ‘OXCM Goes to College’ markets,” said Betsy Chapman, director of the Oxford Community Market. “When I first started with the market in 2011, we would rarely see students as part of the customer base. I think these campus markets have helped increase demand from our student community.”

Faculty in the environmental studies minor are organizing an educational service day on April 22, when participants will head to the South Campus Rail Trails from 10 a.m. to noon to pull Chinese privet, an invasive plant species. Arborists will give an introductory talk on the issues surrounding invasive plants.

“We’ll pull plants and have fun,” said Deanna Kreisel, co-director of the environmental studies minor and associate professor of English. “We hope to raise awareness and encourage people to think of their environment in ways that are more conscious.

“We also hope that this will help build a sense of community around environmental issues on campus.”

Participants can enter an Earth Month raffle to win an Igloo cooler, a Stanley tumbler and a Cotopaxi fanny pack – all made with post-consumer content. Other prizes include plantable herb pencils and cotton Earth Month reusable tote bags.

Entries to the raffle are earned through event attendance and engaging in personal sustainability challenges.

Hailey Smith, a freshman biology and anthropology major from Long Beach, is serving as Earth Month coordinator for the sustainability office.

“Our lineup is full of fun and educational events that will not disappoint,” Smith said. “Since we have more time for our Earth Month celebration, I hope we can utilize it to expand our audience and increase our participation in events to promote sustainability with as much of our community as possible.

“I believe that our UM and Oxford communities are open-minded, so I want to use Earth Month to promote opportunities and resources for us to implement sustainability and spread environmental awareness in our local and, ultimately, global communities.”

For more information and a complete list of Earth Month events, visit the Office of Sustainability’s webpage.